The Trouble With Coaching In Wonderland

We’ve all been Alice – especially if you are, like me, a coach, advisor, or mentor.

We work very hard striving to develop methods, platforms, frameworks, theories, and practices that provably enhance the lives of businesses and individuals. Many of us live in and amongst them – but like any area of expertise, this can actually make us prone to mental patterns and inattentional blindness.

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We give others very good advice, but we don’t always follow it… even when we know better! Sometimes, we work so hard we forget to apply it to ourselves. This can be because we’ve run out of processing space, are too focused, or just plain forget.

Analogue beings in a Digital Age

However much we love the idea of everything digital, the simple fact is that humans themselves are analogue. We aren’t on or off. We’re a sine wave of efficacy, and move through it day to day. The way we operate requires constant refinement. The way we learn is analogue, too (there are some articles forthcoming on elements of this).

Part of being human is the fact we are human, and not perfect. It’s what can spark such innovation and repurposing. I am trained in working out as well, but will find that sometimes I don’t keep strict form, or I don’t focus where I should where I pick up on it quickly in people I’m training. I eat bad food, or I fail where I should know better. I don’t always warm up my voice for events, despite being a singer and knowing better. I don’t always find mindfulness before events, even though I know better! I don’t always apply frameworks to what I’m doing where I should. I talk about looking for new opportunities and serendipty for learning every day, and I follow it… most of the time. Sometimes I can’t. Sometimes I don’t. I try to more often than not.

Inner focus is always much harder than focusing on others! Because we’re always looking outwards from the inside. The difference is, experience can mitigate this quickly.

As a coach, an advisor, a mentor, it’s critical to practice what you preach. But it’s just as important to remember we don’t do everything perfectly. No one operates at 100%, 100% of the time. No one is a machine that downloads something and then does it perfectly ever after.

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Tempting though this is, it means we focus on the end point, not the journey.

It’s really about incorporating knowledge and refining and using it more consistently over time. True progress is measured in evolution, not plateaus of static achievement.

Learning to apply it when it matters is more important than being perfect and applying it 100% of the time, because the second is not realistic. Don’t focus on unrealistic goals.

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Be Kind

Be as kind to yourself as you are to others, especially if you are a coach, because you’re prone to overworking – voice, mind, body. This is part of self-care, and of acceptance. Of exposing vulnerabilities. Of using mistakes to become even better at what you offer others.

There is a huge shift now in businesses and people preferring to see us as human, too, because when that happens, when they see these vulnerabilities, it makes us more likeable, approachable, and gives better interpersonal connections. We are our brand now, in this modern, fast shifting, latter-millennial generational market; we’re more than a service, we’re a package. That includes the imperfections which make us human, help us learn, and make us approachable.

Part of re-realising humanity in business, bringing the human back into HR, is not only celebrating and benefiting from individual strengths in a collaborative ecosystem, but recognising that we are, well… only human.

When that happens… don’t be Alice. Don’t be too hard on yourself.

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